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World Day Against Child Labor: Government has abandoned the children of Sindh

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On the occasion of World Day Against Child Labour, Hari Welfare Association regretted that more than 6.4 million children in Sindh are out of school and most of them are engaged in the worst forms of indecent child labour that deprived them of their right to health, education, protection and development. 

HWA President Akram Khaskheli said that the HWA estimates that there are about 1.7 million bonded labourers in Sindh; of these, over 7 lac children are bonded labourers working under indecent and inhuman working and living conditions imposed by their landlords in the agriculture sector.

According to the data collected by the HWA, from 2013 to 2021, on the orders of courts in Sindh, 3329 children, including a few weeks old minors, were released along with their adult family members from the custody of landlords in the agriculture sector. In 2021, 499 children were released.

Besides the agriculture sector, children under 15 years of age are exploited, abused, and tortured in bangle, brick kiln, fisheries, auto workshops, cotton picking, and chilli picking sectors/activities in the province and unfortunately, labour inspectors, social welfare officers, and child protection officers do not reach and rescue them.

However, these officials have completely ignored the future of these children. Most children work as child domestic slaves and their wages are paid to the agents, which pay nominal money to their parents. Khaskheli said that increasing child labour is not the outcome of poverty. However, these children cause the vicious cycle of poverty, and their labour also reinforces discrimination and social inequality.

The HWA also regrets that the government’s sheer ignorance and absence of policy and plan to eradicate child labour have also added more to the miseries of children and their families. Also, because of the non-availability of work for adults, inflation, and low-paid work, low-income families have increasingly pushed their children to join hazardous labour.

Akram Khaskheli said that government is good at introducing laws but worst at implementing laws. It also said that due to the non-implementation of the Sindh Tenancy Act, 1950, the Sindh Child Protection Authority Act, 2011, the Sindh Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2013, the Sindh Bonded Labour System Abolition Act, 2015, the Sindh Prohibition of Employment of Children Act, 2017 children are engaged in the worst forms of child labour with indecent and inhuman living and working conditions.

In the Sindh Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, it is a crime, if a child under the age of 16 is not sent to school but is working. Government officials, on the other hand, do nothing to encourage children and their families to attend school.

According to the HWA, the government and line agencies lack the commitment and will to enforce legislation and put a stop to children’s suffering. As a result, the HWA asked that the government and related ministries take the issue seriously and assist youngsters in getting to school instead of working, where they are abused, exploited, and tormented.

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